October 26, 2018, Tom Fournier
This post excites me for a strange reason. It is because I get to use a photo taken on the hiking trails in the Shade’s Mills Conservation area! I do think it is an appropriate image. For a business to succeed, there must be alignment. Different functions and different aspects of the business strategy must align or there cannot be success. Let us take a quick look at some areas that come to mind.
Do the sales organization’s targets roll up to give the business their target? Do sales individuals’ targets roll up to give the sales organization its targets? If there are gaps, where is the business going to come from? I always liked to see the roll-up be in excess of the target because you knew that plans would always go awry and you needed a cushion. Have you made a realistic contingency for business churn and other unforeseen circumstances?
Where do your customers come from and is your view evolving? A traditional model (and many are now arguing an outdated model) has the sales representative being exclusively responsible for doing their own prospecting. Do you have an active marketing function with a responsibility for helping to populate the sales pipeline? Are there any layers to your sales model? Sales organizations are increasingly shifting from strictly an outside sales force to augmenting with internal sales. I am fascinated with the concept of Sales Development Representatives (sales resources that do prospecting and lead qualification, warming the opportunity before turning it over to an account executive). Recently listening to some sales oriented podcasts, I heard of ratios of SDRs:AEs of 2:1 or even 3:1 in the technology industry.
Is your organization (marketing and sales) doing digital marketing and social selling?
Your plans for customer acquisition have to support your goals for sales growth.
Sales Process/Sales Methodology
You need a clearly defined sales process but you must also revisit it on a regular basis to be sure it is evolving with the shift in buying behaviour and preferences of your customers and with technology.
The sales process should be coupled with a sales methodology. In my mind, the sales methodology is not a standalone solution for magically accelerating sales but it does give a common language and understanding for coaching and developing sellers and evaluating their effectiveness. It Is the style of selling in the methodology that marketing needs to support in their collateral and materials.
This area needs to support your plans for new business development as well as customer retention.
Customer Success Management
You have a customer. How do you know they are happy with you? How are you going to ensure that they repeat their business? Do you have any leading indicators that they are leaving you? Are there more services or products that you can be selling them by expanding your offering or selling deeper into their organization?
Customer retention, churn reduction and customer penetration roll up into customer success management and it is a vital strategy. It is extremely hard work to gain and sell a new customer. Why be cavalier around not maximizing your relationship with them or letting them go?
There are so many different areas that roll into this. I chose four but there should also be thoughts to sales enablement, a customer relationship management system, data analytics, a culture of coaching to support sales management and the use of artificial intelligence. There are so many possible analogies that can be used but I will settle on; if you are not all rowing in rhythm you will not win the race.
Tom Fournier, founder of the Shade's Mills Group, history enthusiast and happy walker!